An inviting new trend in theater is the “Autism-Friendly” performance. Movie theaters and playhouses in New Jersey and New York are reserving special matinees and evening performances designed to be comfortable and appealing to individuals who have Autism Spectrum Disorder. Besides a judgment-free zone, what does an Autism Friendly performance provide?
According to the Theatre Development Fund (TDF), who is presenting an “autism-friendly” performance the smash hit “Wicked” at the Gershwin Theater, their specialized performance includes:
- Modifications in the play to reduce jarring sounds or strobe lights
- Quiet areas in the lobby staffed with “autism specialists”
- A downloadable social story with photos of the theatre and production
- Additional social stories downloadable on the TDF website
Papermill Playhouse, in Millburn NJ, also offers popular “Autism/Sensory Friendly” performances. Their performances and theatre speace accommodate individuals with Autism and their families by includnig many of the same features as the TDF, and also:
- Gender neutral family bathrooms
- BYO Snacks and Drinks
- “Meet Your Seat” tours of the theater
AMC Theaters also offers “Sensory Friendly Films”. “Get up and dance, walk shout, or sing!” states their website. Theatres across NY/NJ that participate in this program offer lights up, sound down, and suspension of the usual theater rules. Audience members are welcome to move around, talk, shout, sing, and enjoy the show!
For more information about performances mentioned here, see the following links:
Papermill Playhouse: https://papermill.org/about-us/outreach/autism-programs.html